Ship Flying Cambodian Flag Busted for Drugs

A boat caught off the coast of South America with more than 13,600 kg of cocaine was carrying a Cambodian flag but was no longer registered in this country, of­ficials said Wednesday.

US authorities intercepted the fishing boat on Sept 17 and un­covered the stash in a sealed ballast tank, the Associated Press reported, calling it possibly the largest-ever drug seizure at sea.

The boat’s Colombian crew said the boat was registered in Cam­bodia, but officials here said its registration expired more than a year ago when the country replaced the Cam­bo­dian Ship­ping Corp as its chief registry.

Cambodian ships gained an outlaw’s reputation under CSC, which has been accused of registering several disreputable groups guilty of smuggling narcotics and other contraband around the world.

The government fired the company in 2002 and hired the In­ter­national Shipping Registry of Cambodia, a subsidiary of the South Korean-based Cosmos Group, to clean up the business. ISRC opened its offices here in March 2003 and struggled to re­cover the rolls of registered ships kept by its predecessor.

The boat seized earlier this month never registered with ISRC, and its license here expired more than a year ago, according to a representative of the new registry, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

An official at the Council of Min­isters said US authorities had as­sured their Cambodian counterparts that the boat  legitimate title to Camboidian registration.

The boat was reportedly intercepted about 480 km west of the Galapagos Islands, in the Pacific Ocean, by a US Navy frigate. Ten people were detained, the AP reported, and the ship was being treated as without nationality.

of registered ships kept by its predecessor.

The boat seized earlier this month never registered with ISRC, and its license here expired more than a year ago, according to a representative of the new registry, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

An official at the Council of Ministers said US authorities had assured their Cambodian counterparts that the boat no longer had legitimate title to Cambodian registration.

The boat was reportedly intercepted about 480 km west of the Galapagos Islands, in the Pacific Ocean, by a US Navy frigate. Ten people were detained, the AP reported, and the ship was being treated as without nationality.

 

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